Patient Stories: Denise Kearney

Conquering new heights: Training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro at Spire Harpenden

I met Denise in the Spire Harpenden hydrotherapy pool preparing for her upcoming challenge.

Denise Kearney is a keen fundraiser, and has previously done a skydive, bungee jump and even walked over hot coals to raise money for charity, but now she has raised her sights to an even higher goal…

Denise is training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in October, which would be a huge task for anyone, but Denise is also still recovering from an operation on both of her knees.  This challenge is her biggest yet and has been in the making for many years.

"My story began on January 1st 2013 – the year I was to turn 50 and I wanted to be “fabulously fit at 50” so looked around for challenges that would help me achieve my goal whilst raising money for worthy causes. 

After researching I decided to attempt to climb Kilimanjaro for the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK.  I booked to climb in February 2014 which would have meant we hit the summit on the anniversary of me losing my little brother.  

My training in 2013 culminated in a training weekend on Mt. Snowdon.  We climbed the hardest route in terrible weather and during the descent I felt my right knee twinge.  In the morning it didn’t feel right, but I still got up and went on a 20 mile hike.  Half way through, the ache turned into severe pain and I couldn’t use my right leg at all.  I went to the doctors for painkillers and anti-inflammatories and was told to rest it for six to eight weeks.”

In the following weeks Denise also damaged her left knee while she was favouring it, placing more pressure on the joint.

“Things didn’t improve so I decided to use my private health insurance and was referred to Spire Harpenden. An MRI showed that I had ripped my cartilage and that I would need an arthroscopy on both legs.  I had the operation in April 2014.”

Since her operation, Denise has persevered in her goal of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Denise’s physiotherapist at Spire Harpenden, Clare Johnston, is full of praise for Denise’s hard work “We have done a lot of work to get her strength up for the climb, including hydrotherapy and using our isokinetic machine to measure leg strength (Cybex).  Denise really is an inspiration; she has overcome major obstacles and against all odds she is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for a very worthwhile cause.”

Denise explains that the physiotherapy team at Spire Harpenden have been fantastic “I wouldn’t be able to do this if it wasn’t for the staff here.  Not only have they helped me recover physically, but also mentally, showing me that I can do things which I had previously thought were impossible.”

To read more about Denise’s journey you can follow her on twitter @denisekearney1.  Denise aims to raise £20,000 for The Heart Foundation and Cancer Research, charities both very close to her heart.  She explains, “I don’t know what the future holds for my knees but I hope I can impact on the future of people suffering from cancer and heart disease and that one day we will be able to prevent these diseases altogether”

To sponsor Denise you can visit her virgin money giving account here

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